Young toddlers are interested in the world around them. There are so many new things to experience! A great way to allow your child to develop her senses is to spend a lot of time outdoors — and to let her to touch things! So often we say, “Don’t touch that!” “Put that down!” If the environment is safe, let your child explore!
One way to make sure your child is exploring in a safe environment is to create a sensorial basket. I made L’s first sensorial basket with a bunch of different seashells before we went to the beach. That way, when she saw the seashells in their natural environment, she already knew how to handle them. The seashells were all very different textures. I showed L the way I wanted her to touch them to ensure that they weren’t put in her mouth or thrown across the room. I placed a seashell in my flat left palm and stroked it with one or two fingers of my right hand. L copied instantly.
The seashell sensorial basket has been out for a while, so I recently swapped the objects with some things I found in my backyard. L loves feeling the objects in the basket (especially the really small ones!), and she still imitates the way I handle the objects in my own hands. This allows L to have a sensory experience of her environment in a controlled manner, so I know that she isn’t “exploring” rodent droppings or poisonous mushrooms, but things that she is allowed to touch.
You can make a sensorial basket out of just about anything as long as the objects are of different textures. My favorite baskets are comprised of found objects from nature — a fall leaf basket would be great when the leaves are changing colors! If your child loves collecting things when you’re out for a walk, she can even contribute to a sensorial basket herself. Another favorite basket I’ve made in the classroom has been of different kinds of fabrics, each with a unique texture. This is a work that can easily be adapted for any age, and children never grow tired of exploring!